Praying with Others Is Not the Same as Praying Alone
God may not need us to gather in groups to hear our prayers, but it can be useful to us.
Reprinted with permission from To Life!: A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking (Little, Brown & Co.)
The minyan [prayer quorum] is rooted in the understanding that human beings are social animals, that our awareness is changed and heightened by the presence of other people.
(You can see the game better at home on television, but you feel yourself a part of it with a crowd around you at the ballpark. And the movie you remember as being so hysterically funny isn't nearly as funny when you watch it alone at home on your VCR.)
Our prayers are directed to God, not to the people around us, but their presence as fellow congregants helps us see ourselves at that moment as praying people.